SF 49ers show they’re sellers by trading Kwon Alexander to Saints
By Peter Panacy
The SF 49ers appear to be sellers at the NFL trade deadline, moving veteran linebacker Kwon Alexander to the Saints, according to ESPN.
Perhaps the SF 49ers‘ ugly Week 8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, which dropped the Niners to 4-4 and kept them in the NFC West basement, was enough to convince head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch the team should be sellers at the 2020 NFL trade deadline.
While there’s still some time between now and Tuesday’s cutoff point, Lynch and Shanahan engineered something of a blockbuster move by trading veteran linebacker Kwon Alexander to the New Orleans Saints.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first to report the pending transaction on Monday:
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the player offloaded by the Saints in the deal to San Francisco is linebacker Kiko Alonso, who’ll make $4 million this season before hitting free agency in 2021.
The Niners surely benefit from the deal by offloading what was a significant contract on their books and by taking on a number, Alonso’s, that’ll go away by year’s end.
Alexander was going to count for over $7.6 million against the cap this season, while his 2021 contract figure could jump to as much as $15.57 million.
For San Francisco, which has just under $1.5 million in cap space this year and poised to be under next year’s projected $175 salary cap by roughly $9.5 million, moving Alexander’s contract frees up a lot of much-needed space:
The SF 49ers have a number of pending free agents this offseason, including defensive backs Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams, Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley. Additionally, left tackle Trent Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are poised to hit the free-agent market, so clearing up some of that cap room should help the team’s front office re-sign some of those players, should that be the route taken.
SF 49ers trading Kwon Alexander frees up Dre Greenlaw
One could safely make the argument Alexander was San Francisco’s third-best starting linebacker behind Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.
At least according to Pro Football Focus, who has the following grades issued to these three:
- Fred Warner: 80.1
- Dre Greenlaw: 63.7
- Kwon Alexander: 55.4
Alexander has also missed three games this season. And while he’s still within the top five in tackles behind Warner and Greenlaw with 30, Alexander has also missed three and has been much more a liability in pass coverage than his two counterparts.
The move now allows the SF 49ers to feature Greenlaw more, and his pass-coverage skills have been notably better than those of Alexander over the first eight weeks of the season.
Still on his rookie contract, Greenlaw is far cheaper an option for the Niners in the immediate future, too.
For Alexander’s purposes, he’ll get to return to the NFC South after spending the initial part of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now joining a playoff contender in the Saints. So, that’s good for him.
And it’s good for the SF 49ers, too, freeing up Greenlaw and the needed cap room.